Credit cards have been denigrated as a financial evil. I used to have a friend who was a part-time financial adviser and he refused to own a credit card because of the harm done to some of his clients. Credit cards are not inherently evil. They are simply tools in our financial toolbox and if used properly, they can serve rather than harm us.
Credit cards are my favorite financial tool to help me save money. Here are some of my favorite cards in Singapore;
(Note to readers: I don't get paid for advertising these cards. Neither am I paid as an adviser for recommending these cards. So, please do your own homework and don't blame me if my recommendations do not suit you or I got my facts wrong. I only know they suit me well for my lifestyle. )
1. CIMB Platinum Master Card
The favorite feature that I look for in a credit card is cash rebates. It is like getting discounts on all your purchases with the card.
The CIMB Platinum Master Card offers 0.5% cash rebate on all local spending. It offers 1% cash rebate on all foreign spending with no monthly cap. This is useful for people who make purchases from overseas (recently, I made an online foreign purchase but there was no cashback. Is the 1% rebate still valid? Anyone who knows better?). Unlike some other cards, there are no monthly minimum expense to enjoy the full rebates.
The rebates are automatically deducted every month. You do not need to wait for points to be accumulated nor take the trouble to redeem the points.
Another great feature of this card is that there is no annual fee for life. You can save yourself the effort each year to call up the bank to waive off the annual fee as well as the risk of forgetting to do so and being charged the annual fee. I always assume that I will become unemployed eventually in some point of my life. Once the banks know you are unemployed, there is no guarantee that banks will waive off the annual fee because an unemployed person assumes a higher risk profile to the bank. Having a free-for-life card saves me that worry.
One reader told me about the UOB One card. The cashback rate is up to 3.33% but I am not sure if there is a minimum expense in order to enjoy the rebate. I do not own this card, so I better not comment further.
2. Standard Chartered Manhattan card (newly updated)
I just got this card a few weeks later after a kind reader alerted me to it. The cashback rate is better than the CIMB Platinum card - 0.5% for SGD1-SGD999, 1% for SGD1000-SGD2999 and 5% for SGD3000 and above on your monthly statement. The cashback is credited every 3 months. Given the superior cashback rate compared to CIMB card, it makes better sense to spend using this card.
Unlike the CIMB card, this card is not free for life. So, I will still keep the CIMB card as a backup in case the free annual subscription fee waiver is not granted. It is actually quite stupid to pay annual subscription fees on your credit card because all it takes to get a waiver is a phone call.
This card can be used like an ez-link card which we use for public transport. It gives you 2% rebate on each ez-link topup which is the same as shaving 2% off your public transport expense.
Please take note that you are charged SGD0.25 for every topup. Therefore, it makes sense to maximize the top-up amount (SGD50) to reduce the frequency of top-ups to save money.
Because of my thrifty lifestyle, I prefer cards that offer high rebates on basic unavoidable expenses to cards that focus on luxury spending. One helps us to save money, the other tempts us to spend money. It is a matter of lifestyle choice. Just spend if it makes you happy.
The SMRT card offers high rebates on grocery shopping which are necessary household spending. You can get good discounts from the major supermarkets in Singapore like Giant, Carrefour, selected NTUC outlets etc
So far, I cannot find another card with rebates that covers so many supermarkets. Another kind reader has pointed out that the Maybank Family and Friends card offers 5% rebate for some supermarkets as compared to the SMRT card which offers 4.7% unless you spend more than SGD600 per month. By combining both cards, we can get better deals at the supermarkets.
4. POSB Everyday Card
I use the POSB Everyday Card to pay for my utilities bill which is an unavoidable basic expense. I get 1% off my utilities by using this card. This is the only card I found in Singapore that can be used to pay utilties bill. Again, if you know of a better card, please share.
Credit cards can be a good financial friend. Just don't owe money on your credit card but if you do, the top financial priority should be to pay them off. NEVER ROLL OVER YOUR CREDIT CARD DEBTS. Nobody can be rich if they have to carry debt at 20% compounded. Even a small amount can kill.